Having an estate plan in place is important for every individual. An estate plan is a set of legal documents that sets forth what you would want to happen to your assets if you were to die or become incapacitated. An estate plan can also establish a decision maker in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. A Nashville estate planning attorney can help you draft the necessary documents that you need to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones.
There are a number of key steps involved to drafting your estate plan. The following will provide you with some of the most important steps:
1. Inventory Your Assets and Debts
Keeping a list of everything that you own and everything that you owe can be very helpful for anyone trying to help with any estate issues. The court will require any person seeking to probate an estate to definitely know what assets or debts that the person left. If a person passes away without a list of assets and debts, it can be very hard to determine where things are or where they should go. Whether the estate is comprised of real estate, accounts, stocks, a person may have assets spread out all over the place. Having an established list can make any process much quicker and smoother.
2. Provide for your Children
It is especially important to account for those who depend upon you. You will want to make sure that your children or any other dependents are taken care of. In your estate plan, you can appoint a guardian to care for your minor children in the event that you pass away. The guardian is able to make essential decisions on behalf of the children. Also, you likely will want to leave assets to be used for your children. A simple will can both appoint a guardian and set forth assets for your children in the event of your death.
3. Document your Wishes
One of the most important aspects about your estate plan is that it documents your wishes. You are free to do whatever you want with your estate plan. Without having certain estate planning documents in place, any decisions would be left up to other people. Specifically, if you die without a will, the state sets forth where your assets are to be distributed. Similarly, if you are incapacitated, any medical decisions on your behalf could be left up to someone else. You obviously may not want someone else making such a large decision without your input. For that very reason it is important to have an estate plan in place to document your wishes.
4. Appointing a Fiduciary
Another important step in creating an estate plan is appointing a fiduciary who would handle your affairs if you were ever unable to do so. A fiduciary is a person who is granted authority to handle or control a person’s assets. This may include appointing someone as an executor to handle your estate for any probate proceedings. Also this can include appointing someone to serve as Power of Attorney for you. Appointing a person Power of Attorney grants that individual authority to conduct business, pursue a lawsuit, contract, or any other legal matter. This can be helpful if a person becomes incapacitated. Appointing someone you trust is always important in choosing a potential fiduciary.
If you have questions about drafting an estate plan, contact the Nashville estate planning attorneys at The Higgins Firm. We would be happy to help.